THREE A.M.

this months writing prompt was to set our alarms for 3 a.m., get up and write.

THIS is forty

J. N. Johnson

*(confession: the only thing that came to me at 3 in the morning was: “The wrong decision can lead in the right direction.” And that led to the following being written in the daylight hours.)*

*(ps – I am flabbergasted by what Bergen wrote at 3 a.m. That chick needs to write at 3 a.m. all the time!)*

 “Bring me my roti bread.” The beast ordered from her Throne of Bones.

Human bones.

She relished in the memory of making her throne. It was many years ago she had collected beetles to strip the bones clean.  Now, in her advanced age, she had grown weary and couldn’t fathom having the endurance to collect beetles.

At one time the words ‘Jabba Roti’ had struck fear into the hearts of all.  These days they called her by a different name.  There was only one left who knew she had been Jabba Roti, and he would take his secret to the grave.  It was her love, her man servant, her James Franco.  She was safe.

Her slug like body had stiffened with age and she struggled with dehydration.  Her thick lips dried so easily that James had to apply Burts Bees hourly.  The only joy she felt was when she ordered James to throw some roti’s on the grill and then he hand-fed her the delicate, oily bread. She never could decide if she loved roti because of these special feeding rituals or if it was simply because the roti was that good.

The first morning when she awoke with an unnatural thirst, her hands chubby with dehydration and her thick tail stiffened by battle-moves on the field the night before, she had panicked. She had never been this run-down from battle before.  In response, she increased her water intake to 3 litres a day. But it was in vain, no amount of water could fend off the puffy hands, cracked lips and the crow’s feet.

She was a Jabba and this was how they aged, but she did not know that.

She checked her iphone.  Yes, her birthday was approaching, but she always felt so young.  She was incredibly immature for her age.  “The mental equivalent of a 14 year old,” her doctor had quipped.  And she thought that her body would follow this lead.  Your thoughts create your reality, that was her mantra.  She knew that both mentally and physically she would not succumb to the passage of time. She knew that she would remain young and immature right up to her fiftieth birthday when her life would be snuffed out by battle.  Dead at fifty but looking, and feeling, thirty.  That was her plan.  She had years left to be young, to fight and to die.  But her body had betrayed her.

The day that changed everything had begun like any other.  She suited up and slithered to the battle field, eager to conquer her foes. Then by chance, she twisted just a fraction too far whilst slashing the abdomen of a Knight. Her right shoulder clunked out of place and throbbed with pain. The injury left her vulnerable.  She was barely able to lift her shield to block a shower of flaming arrows as she made her escape. She slunk home, defeated.

As James applied ice to her shoulder and butter to her burns, a single tear ran down his cheek.  He was sure he had hidden it from her. But she saw.  Her eyes were the size of human heads, she saw everything.

It was in that moment she knew it was time to hang up her sword and shield.  It was in that moment that Jabba Roti retired.

Depressed, she slithered deep into her lair and let age take her.  Broken-hearted, James tended to the chores and waited for his love’s return.

II

In her days of solitude, she reflected upon her life and accepted that her death would soon follow. Days turned to weeks and yet death did not take her. Alone on this planet, she had no idea where she had come from. She had no kin. She didn’t know what she was and she had no idea how long she was supposed to live.

She wept.

“Jabby,” a soft whisper pulled her awake. It was him, her James, and risking his life he had sought her out in the depths of her lair. “It’s time my love,” he continued, “Time to live again.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a Burt’s Bee’s and gently slathered her lips.  She knew he was right.

She emerged from the darkness renewed.  Years had past, her old enemies long dead. She slithered onto her throne to start a new life.

James quickly gathered his mop-bucket and retreated to the depths of the lair (as she had created one hell of a mess over the years) and she was left alone.

She did not even have to ask.  There, waiting upon her skull arm rest, was a stack of warm roti bread. She picked at the first one, peeling off a small chunk and placed it in her mouth.  Its delicate flesh dissolved.  It was cooked to perfection.  She closed her eyes and savoured her favourite treat.

“uh-um.” A small voice interrupted her revere.  Her eyes snapped open to find a young man kneeled before her.  A packet of frozen roti lay in his outstretched hand.

His eyes fixed on the floor, he spoke “My lady, I besiege thee for guidance.”

She reached forward and took the roti.  “Rise, young man, and continue.” She ordered. “But do not look upon my face.”

He stood.  He kept his eyes fixed on the floor. “I have completed my pilgrimage as you demand, I have arrived at your lair on hands and knees.  I ask you, please, tell me what to do with my life?”

“The answer lies within, seek silence, seek solitude and seek not the opinions of others, including me.” She whispered.

“But what if I make the wrong decision? What if I make a mistake?” he cried.

“Fear not a mistake, for failure is only such if looked upon as such.”

A stitch of confusion formed between his eyes.

“The wrong decision can lead you in the right direction.  What is important is that you decide.  What is important is that you follow.” She explained.

A hint of understanding sank in, “Thank you, thank you” he gushed.

“Now be gone from my sight!” she bellowed. “But do not let me gaze upon your hideous back-side!”

He bowed deeply and faced the throne to keep his back-side hidden, and never looking upon the guru, he shuffled backwards towards the door.

“Heels Up!!” she screamed.  And he complied as all those who are in the presence of a guru must walk on tip toes.

A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth.  She looked up to see her man-servant in the shadows, a grin upon his face.

And Roti Guru was born.

3 a.m.

S. J. Bergen

 I am dreaming.  There is a woman and a man and they are husband and wife.  It is a fearful dream filled with violence and dread.  They are older, almost retirement age and it appears that they have been married for a long time.

 The woman is Marilyn Monroe blond and heavier set, while her husband is a large, lumbering hulk of a man.  His rage follows him like the stink on a skunk, permeating the air like an acidic, thick fog.

She is his personal punching bad and almost every conversation and interaction results in the swing of his fist.  Mostly, it is her stomach that takes the abuse, but her arms, back and head sometimes take his fury as well.

It is afternoon, and it feels like a sunny Southern California type of day.  After taking yet another blow from her loving husband, she decides, as she runs down the narrow hallway of their home, that she has finally had enough.  She enters their backyard and reaches the pool.

Here, my dream moves to a different angle.  Instead of looking at the scene straight on like a typical movie, the angle sweeps straight up into the air, looking down directly above the water.  Suddenly, she enters the shot, flying across the water in a one-piece bathing suit.  Her swan dive is perfection and she lands in the water, barely making a ripple.  This appears to be where she goes for solace, and he knows it.  He can’t leave her alone, is unable to give her the peace she so dearly needs.  She cannot escape him.

Again, the shot switches back to pool level and he jumps in and begins to swim as well.  As they approach each other, he attempts to reach out and grab her, but on this battleground she is most definitely the superior warrior.  She glides effortlessly by skirting his awkward thrashing with ease.

It has been years of this torture and fear is her constant companion.  But today, she has a plan.

Suddenly, in a shaded, dark corner of the yard there is a plain clothed policeman.  He is sitting in a tattered lawn chair watching the two swimmers behind a pair of dark shaded sunglasses.  In the pool the woman is hoping he sees.  That finally, he will be witness to the hell she has been living in for almost 30 years.  She is surprised she has survived for so long.  But like every good sadist, her husband leaves just about enough life left in her so that she can live to endure another round of torture.

And again, the dream begins to short out, like an old television that has started to go dead or lose reception.  It goes black for a split second.  When it comes back on, the woman has been told there is no evidence of violence and that the cop cannot help her.  She is still in the pool and so, her plan remains the same.  It’s a desperate one but it will have to work. She reaches the end of the pool and turns to face him.  He is making his way down the lane towards her, his large, flabby arms slapping the water as he struggles to stay on the surface.  Her feet touch the hard, rough side of the pool and bending her knees, she pushes off gliding on the surface.  He is approaching rapidly and she has to act quickly.  She arks her body and dives head first deep underneath him.  She looks up and sees his enormous frame kicking above.  Now is her chance.  She swims up and under him and grabs his legs, pulling him down with her.  This is it for her.  This is her chance to end everything.  He is thrashing wildly and trying to reach out and push her hands away.  But she is too strong.  Years of terror, fear and anger bubble up and fuel her strength.  Her intent is very clear and he senses it.

Suddenly, as they are suspended in the depths, gravity no longer a factor, she comes out of her state of rage, and realizes with horror, what she is about to do.  Here, the entire scene slows down and their eyes meet.  It is the most honest moment they have ever had, both of them realizing that this is the culmination of who they are and what they have become.

She lets go and they both reach the surface gasping for air.  On the surface, it is a peaceful afternoon.  The sky is azure blue while a light breeze ripples the water and the palm trees sway lazily.  Somewhere, a dog is barking.

They stare at each other breathing heavily, not a word spoken between them.  But the moment says a thousand things.

He doesn’t reach out; doesn’t make any attempt at retribution.  Giving him one last look, she backs away and climbs out of the pool.  She is going to leave him today.  They both know this.  The knowledge of her decision does not surprise her.  She packs her bags in the still afternoon and leaves.

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